North Dakota State of the State Address 2001

Following is the full text of Gov. John Hoeven's Inaugural Address on Jan. 9:

Thank you. Allow me to acknowledge Lt. Governor Dalrymple, Speaker Bernstein, Congressman Pomeroy, Governor Link, Justices of the Supreme Court, elected officials, distinguished legislators of the 57th Assembly, Tribal Leaders, my wife, Mikey, my children Marcela and Jack, and all my family. And, to those of you listening or watching statewide, good afternoon.

I am honored to stand here today as North Dakota's 33rd governor, the first governor of the new century and the new millennium. I pledge to you that I will work every day to live up to the faith that the people of North Dakota have placed in me.

The last time I gave a speech in such a formal setting was last summer in Philadelphia, a few days after getting butted in the head by a horse at the Taylor Horse Fest. The result was a black eye and stitches.

I am looking forward to the coming legislative session, and ask only that you treat me better than that horse did.

Today, as you in the Legislature undertake the important work of developing policy for the state, I want to share my vision of where North Dakota has been, and where North Dakota is going. It is a vision that rests on the knowledge that our people are grounded in family and faith, and their reputation as diligent, capable and resourceful citizens is known across the nation.

I believe North Dakota has weathered the rough storms that have historically buffeted our economy. Not every day can dawn clear and bright, but I do think that the long-term outlook is promising. We can create more, better-paying jobs throughout all of North Dakota. By doing so, we will keep our young people in the state, and encourage others to return. And we will pay for the services people need through economic growth, not through tax increases. Let me pause here to thank former Governor Ed Schafer for his leadership, setting us in the right direction. His positive attitude and supportive policies toward business growth helped make North Dakota a better place to live. Governor, wherever you may be on your much-delayed honeymoon with Nancy, thank you.

To you in the Legislature, you also demonstrated leadership, and North Dakotans owe you words of appreciation, as well.

And to those in the private sector, who are the real visionaries, the real risk-takers, let me assure you that my administration's approach is one of empowerment. We want to provide the necessary tools for you to expand, to prosper, and to grow. You are the ones who will truly carry us forward.

Economic diversification is real. North Dakota's economy used to rely heavily on agriculture and energy, swinging wildly with world markets. Farming, ranching and energy production will remain critical to the creation of good jobs, but they are not the only source of employment now.

Our service sector is a growing strength. Manufacturing is on the rise. We are targeting new industries that will bring new wealth and new people to the state.

There is a New Economy, and North Dakota must be part of it.

As I have worked in economic development and in my travels across the state, I see this New Economy taking hold in the form of value-added agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and technology-based business services.

The New Economy is Kent and Jeanne Sortland of Jamestown, who grow sunflowers, soybeans, wheat and barley on the family farm in Litchville. Jeanne works at Dakota Growers Pasta in Carrington as quality assurance manager.

In addition to farming, Kent turned to technology as a tool in entrepreneurship, one of the basic ways of creating the better-paying jobs North Dakota needs.

Several years ago, he launched a new web site,, with marketing information for farmers. He's recently merged with a livestock-oriented website, and plans to move into the new technology center in Valley City, hoping to create 40 new jobs there.

The New Economy is international. On the Schroeder-family farmstead in Davenport, a young company has started up. Ice Crystal Engineering manufactures cloud-seeding flares used in hail suppression and rain enhancement a product first used in North Dakota. Contracts have been closed with companies and countries worldwide, in places such as Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Greece. As a result, seventeen local people have good jobs in rural North Dakota.

The New Economy is advanced manufacturing. Progressive companies are drawing on our excellent workforce all across the state. During my time at the Bank of North Dakota, we helped recruit Polar Ware to McClusky. This manufacturer of stainless steel products is moving its food service and health care product lines to McClusky, creating about 20 jobs with more to come. These are technically skilled jobs, working with advanced manufacturing robotics. Just one company has made a tremendous difference to this rural community in central North Dakota. Our challenge is to recreate this success in a hundred towns all across the state. And we can do it!

The New Economy is technology-based business services. Reliastar, an insurance services company in Minot, uses the latest technology to serve clients around the globe. With an additional 150 jobs just announced, employment will soon rise to 700 people. Workers at Reliastar can keep their children close-by at the company's on-site day-care center. Last year, the company rewarded employees with bonuses of $4,000 to $6,000!

The New Economy is value-added production. Adnan AlDayel, coming to the state with his North Dakota wife, Merita, has worked with the Central Dakota Cattle Association to create Dakota Halal Processing. The plant will process locally raised livestock for a niche market, following strict dietary and religious guidelines required by the Muslim community. The result is more jobs for rural North Dakota, and another market for North Dakota livestock.

Step by step, our economy changes from the old to the new. North Dakotans are embracing the change, and to our children, it's just second nature.

Last Friday I visited Discovery Junior High School in Fargo to announce my education plan. It's a wonderful school, with excellent teachers and good kids. Before I left, one of the students presented me with a photograph of the just-completed news conference captured on a digital camera, and already printed out in full color.

And I visited an eighth-grade classroom, where students had used the Internet exclusively to research the last election, looking up the candidates' positions on all the issues. They then produced a videotape Oprah show, including an interview with a student standing in for me wearing a paper moustache! He did a great job, but it was a little disturbing he answered the questions better than I would have!

Education remains the foundation upon which the New Economy will grow. That's why I have proposed a major salary increase for our state teachers.

The plan which will bring a $3,500 boost in compensation over two years is vital for retaining our good teachers and keeping the high quality of our schools. It represents a bold new approach for education, fully paid for within our budget. It takes the pressure off local property taxes, and gives school boards the flexibility they need.

It's a big step, but a necessary investment in our children, the future quality of our workforce, and ultimately, the economic vitality of our state.

Allow me to talk about the budget for a moment. We will be making available updated figures and proposals from OMB after we conclude. We have built a responsible budget, based on conservative revenue projections. For example, the potential draw from the Bank of North Dakota is less than in the budget for the current biennium. My budget recommendations emphasize the tools we need to foster the New Economy the economic change we need to create more, better-paying jobs.

The budget embraces technology and the completion of the statewide high-speed data network. We will provide high-speed Internet access capabilities to 194 communities, using the network to expand distance education and technology workforce development programs. For business and education, this is the infrastructure upon which our next level of economic growth will come.

The state also needs to focus its economic development efforts, to become more creative and effective. To that end, I believe strongly that we should bring development-related agencies into a one-stop-shop, a Department of Commerce.

I am speaking of ED&F, Tourism, Community Services and Workforce Development.

The proposed Commerce Department will eliminate nine positions and target more dollars for real economic development. We can put more money into creating jobs while cutting government.

We will create new tools, like an investment tax credit that will encourage North Dakotans to invest in new and expanding primary-sector businesses. Five million dollars in tax credits will spur $25 million of investment. We must encourage North Dakota investors to invest in North Dakota business.

We must also have more public venture capital. My budget adds nearly $3 million to the Development Fund, a vital source of public venture capital in the state. Another $1 million also goes for marketing the state to visitors and investors alike.

Of course, farming and ranching will remain the foundation of North Dakota's economy. On the federal level, we must work with Congress to develop a farm policy that retains planting flexibility while establishing a better safety net. Our farmers need and deserve a long-term policy and level playing field.

On the state level, we should phase out the state sales tax on used farm machinery and repair parts. The impact on revenues will be $5.5 million, but I believe that money would be best left in the pockets of North Dakota's farmers and Main Street businesses. And we also reaffirm our strong commitment to research dollars for agriculture. Several million dollars invested in ag research can return hundreds of millions to our state's economy through new, disease-resistant crops.

In research for agriculture and in other areas as well, our university system must help drive us forward. Through research and development, innovation and workforce training, higher education has a major role to play in our economic development efforts.

That is why we have added Challenge Grant funding to the budget to help our universities access matching funds from federal programs and private industry. The budget also includes funding for innovative scholarships for students and faculty alike to encourage them to pursue more math, science and technology-based degrees. And, we added the requested dollars for workforce training. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have provided our university system the flexibility envisioned by the Higher Education Roundtable.

While we embark on these exciting initiatives, this budget also retains the responsibilities central to government to help those who need help our senior citizens, the less fortunate, and those who can use a hand on the way toward a better life.

We can ensure that our seniors are well-cared for, by qualified staff. And we can make sure that North Dakota's reputation as a safe, low-crime state remains true.

I am pleased to provide these revisions to the executive budget, and I look forward to discussing them with Legislature.

Not only discussing ... but also working on these priorities... together.... With a sense of purpose.

For I believe it is really the work that will lift North Dakota upward, to move our state to a better future.

Of course, I include the work we undertake in government, in the executive branch, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. In our local communities, city councils and park boards, school boards and the Board of Higher Education.

The work in our churches, community groups and individual charities.

But beyond anything else, it is the citizens of North Dakota whose work will take us forward. The citizens who plow the fields, teach our children, stock the shelves, and take risks in their businesses large and small all of this in an economy that changes minute by minute.

We in government must work together to empower our citizens, to help all our people to build a brighter future for North Dakota. That is the task before us.

I believe we can do it. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless North Dakota.
All State of the State Addresses for North Dakota :